「無限の残骸 アンリミテッド／レイズ・デッド」 (Mugen no Zangai -Anrimiteddo / Reizu Deddo-)
“Infinite Remains -Unlimited/Raise Dead-“
I’ve talked before about how Fate/EXTRA Last Encore has been either metaphor for heaven or purgatory, but from appearances it seems that the 6th stratum of SE.RA.PH is modelled after the frozen lake of Cocytus. I was asking for something big for episode 10 last week, and I guess the lowest circle of hell fits the bill. More relevantly for the plot, it’s also time to find out what the deal is with Rin (and by extension Rani). We’ve had a a string of revelatory episodes recently, our two supporters are the last big mystery left to be addressed. They are arguably the only characters who seem to know what’s going on, who seem to have a plan going forward, and who seem to have changed the most compared to their game incarnations (what with their newfound magical girl powers and all), and I don’t think I’m the only one who wants to see what they’re all about unravelled.
While Rin and Rani’s Last Encore incarnations are quite alien for those familiar with them from the original game (as I am), I imagine they must be even more so for those who have not played the game at all. For those of that number who are still following along, my commendations. I admire your perseverance in the face of an anime that was not made for you at all. It’s clear now that Last Encore is just an avenue for Nasu to play around with his old Fate/EXTRA ideas, with no regard to who may be watching. And the big idea behind Rin and Rani in Fate/EXTRA is that, ultimately, only one gets to live. In the game, Rin and Rani were ad hoc allies of the player who offered aid and comfort from time to time. they were indeed matched against each in a round of the Holy Grail War, and were perched to kill each other. The player can intervene, but can only choose to save one of them. The other eventually becomes an opponent in a later round, and the player has to kill her. It’s the classic visual novel diverging route, a choice that splits the story into two. In the grand scheme, though, this choice wasn’t actually very impactful on the plot, with the branching narrative reconverging quickly and the only lasting effect being whether Rin or Rani live to see the end.
In a way, Nasu seems to be questioning this route branch in Last Encore. The entire split is arbitrary. The only takeaway is that either Rin or Rani must die. Last week I talked about how Nasu is only really concerned about this thematic core, and here all the bollocks about getting Matrix-batteried is really just there to put Hakuno into a dilemma. Our protagonist zombie, who just recently grappled with the meaning of life, has to weigh life and death yet again. His natural instinct — to try to save them both — is hard to fault, but it is doomed to failure. If Hakuno really wanted to both to live, he could have just left them there, but that doesn’t really solve anything, does it? Similarly, in the videogame the only option to move on is to kill Rin or Rani. The only alternative is to literally put the game down. Stop playing it. Never advance. And that’s the way it is for the Holy Grail War. The only way to move forward is to kill your opponent, and Nasu always posited that as a morally justifiable action. His thesis is that life is more than existence, and therefore conflict is acceptable for progress, and peace should not be priced with stagnation. And it is in the arbitrary framework of the Holy Grail War, and the even more arbitrary framework of a videogame set up around a Holy Grail War, where the choice is clearest. No matter what, keep moving forward.
Ironically, this is as far forward as the Last Encore can move, for now. We’ve run out of air time. We have to stop at episode 10. We’ll be getting an episode 11… later, via the internet, but for now I guess we’re on hiatus. It may seem bizarre that we’re stopping here, but it’s just SHAFT doing SHAFT things. Anime production is a messy business, evidently. So let’s insert our bookmark here and put Fate/EXTRA Last Encore back on the shelf temporarily. While we wait, we can enjoy the new Spring 2018 anime season. I’ll see you all back here in a few months for the rest of Last Encore.